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    Thoughts on Inauguration Day 2017

    1-PHOTO-Frank wooBy Frank Woo

    This is a day that I could never fathom happening in my lifetime. The extraordinary progress we have made just in the last eight years have been remarkable.

    Who knew or even expected that someone not qualified; someone who has literally been able to seemingly succeed in life without really trying or sacrificing anything; someone who has no qualms whatsoever about lying to the public; someone with no moral values, integrity or character; someone who has such low regard for members of the human race who are different from him; and someone who has been exploiting his white privilege his entire life could be elected the leader of the free world. I mean this is a man who brags that he punched his teacher in the face when he was in the fifth grade.

    I struggle to find why one would want to reverse and overturn rights and protections of individuals, knowing that by doing so causes more harm than good. And to know that this man wants this to be one of his first actions, via Executive Order, after being sworn in?

    That, coupled with the fact that he has appointed some of the least friendly and fair-minded Cabinet members ever, lacking in empathy and compassion, tells me that Trump has shown us his cards. There is no such thing as “time” or to give him a chance. Giving him time or a chance will only ensure that his agenda is met. We need to fight back. We need to speak up. We need to take action. We need to band together and stop the infighting.

    On a very personal note, growing up knowing I was gay since I was 11 or 12, I ate up the crap that was spewed about homosexuality. I thought I was a sinner, damaged goods, and ready to go to hell when I died. A lot of days I wished I was, in fact, dead; totally convinced that it wouldn’t matter and I wouldn’t be missed.

    My getting involved with the community and the community-at-large gave me a completely different perspective of myself, my life, and my worth. My very first volunteer role was as an Emotional Support Volunteer at the Shanti Project, where I provided active listening skills to persons living and dying with HIV/AIDS and to ease their transition.

    This was in the ’80s, so it was mostly people dying with AIDS. My first client was Joe, a young and handsome guy when he was healthy. He had a beautiful soul. He couldn’t get out much, but he made himself feel better because he knew he was dying and wanted to go out and see Beaches starring Bette Midler. We went, we saw, we cried, and Joe died.

    Joe’s death had a profound effect on me. Here I was thinking that living or dying didn’t matter, and here was a man, not wanting to die, wanting to live and clinging to his life.

    Another good-bye went to President Obama, a man who has also had a profound effect on me. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be invited to the White House, not once, but twice. Never did I ever imagine I would get Christmas and birthday cards from the White House. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine the rights extended to the LGBT community—in eight short years. So, yes, I am going to miss this man immensely because he made me feel like I belong and that I matter in this world.

    To say I am devastated with a President Trump is an understatement. I don’t want to feel like I was 11 or 12 yet again. The one difference this time? I’m fighting back and speaking up.

    Frank Woo, the Honorary Grand Marshall of the 2002 San Francisco Pride Parade, served as Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign to build the SF LGBT Community Center. For thirteen years, he served on the Human Rights Campaign’s National Board of Governors and National Board of Directors. He and his partner Sheldon Sloan continue to actively support and strengthen the LGBT community.